i) Relationship between People, Information, and Information Technology in Thineline Trading Company
People are important in any trade as they play various roles starting from business case development to distribution of the product or service to the consumer. Communication between various stakeholders is enhanced by the effective delivery of information from the company to employees, creditors, debtors and customers. Even the people who relate to the employees see themselves as part of ThineLine Trading Inc. as they daily associate and interact with products and information of the company. It is the employees of the firm who assist in articulating the mission, implementation, strategy and relationships or teamwork building. Employees participate in carrying out the objectives of the company while the management fosters strategic decisions help steer the organization. People oriented organizations realize that customer service and good reputation is important in building and increasing the business sales leverage. Apparently, people use information to improve and deliver quality service and product through the aid of information technology like internet, mobile phones, intranet and e-services. Thineline Trading which specializes in IT supplies and maintenance have the responsibility of building a lasting relationship with private and public customers. They ensure that services are rendered in the standards and quality customer expectations. To succeed in this, they must act and consider any information from customers and channel their requirements from their suppliers into operations and forth to them. Indeed, information technology has fastened the pace of activities in the organization and has reduced the ad hoc letter delivery, and physical movement to customers to get orders and feedback. As mentioned earlier, information is power and wealth to a business in the service industry. The company must be keen and quick to learn about tenders and offers posted in the print media and publications through steadfast employees. They should make sure that new channels of communication is well followed so that all crucial information is harnessed. Customers will always continue to express interest in the company if they find their issues are being addressed quickly and effectively using the fastest means of communication.
ii) Porter’s Five Forces Model
Threats of new entrants may increase the already tough competition especially firms doing IT supplies and maintenance. The entrants do not find market share easy to capture as they will have to take time to capture and source business from open clients and also to switch undecided customers. The entrants will also have to learn sourcing and building of relationships with the new customers. It is also possible that the existing IT business will offer stiff competition to the new entrants by offering discounts and gifts to their clients.
Substitutes in IT industry have recently developed with minimal alternatives currently existing. Online products may substitute what companies already have but with relatively difficult to obtain and receive assurance of warranty and serviceability like in the company based IT products. Buyers may not easily find online products easy to switch to as they are difficult to comprehend and apply from a layman point of view. In the case of IT products, suppliers are few with many buyers procuring this highly valued product. There is no threat of the IT companies integrating forward into retail outlets though there are many IT maintenance specialists coming up in huge numbers. Few understand programming and software development hence the tendency to integrate backwards is minimal. Often, buyers are by far too many to these standardized products. As mentioned above, buyers do not easily integrate backwards since the manufacturers do not intend to integrate forward. This industry is an important group to Thinline Trading Inc.
The rivalry has been intense in this sector since many buyers who trade in the same products. The production costs are in the form of human labor, power and patents and thus prices are not largely fixed. The products are less differentiated, and low switching costs therefore rivalry is reduced. Exit barriers are few hence profits are obtained easily.
iii) Supply Chain Management System, ERP and CRM
Thineline trading company has in place the number of its suppliers who are found in the city, their physical location and network mission. The operations in the provincial offices are effective and efficient with a well developed distribution network to government and private companies. Customers know where to find their products in the provincial operational offices. Direct deliveries are carried out in the regional office in order to reach them. All the activities are done to ensure that costs of making calls, deliveries are kept low. Products moving slowly or redundant are placed on display which attracts the initial pricing. Information flows down from the suppliers through the company to customers hence achieving high product turnover. Inventory and payment records are well kept.
The management and coordination of IT product flow have a bi-directional flow. The company integrates external information from customers and suppliers with that of the internal (employees) in order to effectively run the finances, operations, IT product sales and building lasting customer relationship. This is ensured by balancing cash payments made by private companies and credit checks from government institutions. The company manages its customers and prospects well. It has employed salespersons at provincial offices through the aid of customer relationship management to attract and win more customers while retaining existing clientele. This will reduce administrating and sales costs in the long run.
iv) Database Management System and Data Warehouse
The company has an elaborate data management system which captures details of customers and suppliers like nature of business, number of employees, and physical location. In addition, amount of business, contacts, status of a relationship and mode of payment is also important. The data is helpful in building a good relationship and communication for business to thrive and continue. Ledger and record keeping is important to know the position of debt to creditors as well as credit to debtors. The phasing of payments helps to track and monitor slack and the possibility of the company incurring bad debts and running into insolvency. Again, the customer data bank will help the sales team to know how prospective customers will likely provide an opportunity for big businesses. This is easy given that private and public institutions are easily procured with minimal strain.
v) Four Agent‐Based Technologies
Multiple agents and emergent technologies are important in the production of programs which have the abilities of running tailor made decisions. The IT products sold and procured by Thinline company have the autonomy to have independent functions which are least interfered. The systems will be able to constructively and intelligently integrate with users who will happen to be employees of private and government institutions. The responsiveness of the systems are aided by the ability of products to meet the needs of users and give responses quickly to address emergent needs. Information technology products depict a high level of proactiveness as they are mainly intelligent outputs commonly operating in more dynamic, open and distributed locations.
vi) E-commerce Business Models
Merchant e-commerce business model is applicable since the company employs the online version in the province and city offices to reach suppliers and customers. It has an online store to sell and advertise some of its products. Some of the maintenance services are procured online and payments made online. The merchandise to the clients are delivered directly to customers and does not use a third party online deliveries or warehousing services meaning that the company handles all its products and delivers them directly to the clients. The merchant based business model is most appropriate for Thinline trading as its most convenient online version of the provincial store.
vii) Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC)
Business case and project plan are gradually updated to enable company technicians to obtain a better idea of business scope. The company follows the systems development life cycle (SDLC) in administration and sales of its IT products but not in entirety as it does not manufacture software. However, it plays the role of buyer versus developer by purchasing off-the-shelf programs from other companies rather than employ software developers to develop a homegrown system. Evaluation of purchase products replaces the coding and debugging process. Planning at this stage involves getting the system requirements from the customers ensuring quality procurement is conducted. The architectural designs are catered for by the manufacturers and thus not the immediate concern of Thineline trading. Their main phase in design Lifecycle is to test and run maintenance schedules for the supplied products done by maintenance and repair departments.
viii) Phases of Business Continuity Planning
The business in the IT industry has risks which should be identified through risk assessment and government regulations that can disrupt business operations. Risk analysis considers the type of risk, impact, degree of frequency and corresponding actionable measures. A risk like delaying in the procurement of software is common and highly to affect customer relationship. The manager of Thinline will have to take responsibility for order delays and communicate with customers. If the risks are huge to the company, it may be forced to look for alternative steps to mitigate such uncertainties using a viable strategy. The company will also have to come up with a plan that is precise and accurate to communicate the risks and interruptions ensuing. Finally, the company will test the rigor of the plan by testing. The tools that aid this process will include checklists, simulation tests and equipment testing drills. This testing phase completes the business continuity management cycle.
ix) Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Cell Phones
Thineline trading already uses mobile phones, emails and Wi-Fi to communicate. These forms of communication ensure that the information is relayed in the quickest and fastest means possible. Mobile phones help to give concise and brief orders and requests from the two branches. Short message service (SMS) and voice communication are important in transmitting small data required for certain operations to be completed. Cell phones enable communications between head office and branch office while Wi-Fi allows inter office communications not required mobile calls. Packets of information are also shared between departments through e-mails stipulating every item to be executed.
x) Product Security and Protection
The company uses a firewall and spyware to protect its systems and documents from viral attacks before being sold to customers. This kind of security has to be guaranteed by the suppliers as part of a warranty or maintenance service. Virus attacks have been known to be from external boxes and there is a need to ensure that there is a firewall that protects the company from the external attacks. This firewall will act as a shield and a sieve so that the traffic from outside the network will have to be keenly scrutinized before they are allowed.The susceptibility of products to viral attacks will lower its brand and subsequently shift customer attention to other companies. Similarly, unauthorized access to sensitive documents or crucial information can be ensured of safety through the use of passwords and lockable cabinets which are only available to the authorized person. Unauthorized people should not get a chance to get access to the cabinets that contain important documents and gadgets as their motives are never known. The company will have managers e-mails only directed to the computer in his/her office which will contain strategic management information different from what technicians’ e-mails will contain. The document sent via e-mails will be protected from hackers who may illegally obtain the company’s information. Intruders are common with documents that are sent over the Internet. They access information by breaking into systems. They may have access to the cipher-text keys that are used to unlock the message and get to know the content. Intruders are common in messages and information that are sent over the internet especially email.
Patten, G. L. (2007). Strategic organization development. AuthorHouse.